Sunday Bloody Sunday

Movie review by
Tom Cassidy, Common Sense Media
Sunday Bloody Sunday Movie Poster Image
Oscar-nominated bisexual love triangle drama has mild sex.
  • R
  • 1971
  • 110 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Themes include humility, courage, and integrity. Characters learn to have the confidence to end controlling relationships. The movie has a very positive and realistic portrayal of homosexuality -- something that was unusual when the movie was made in 1971.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Alex initially feels powerless in her relationship. But she shows courage in standing up for herself. Daniel keeps his sexuality a secret but doesn't bend to pressures from his family or society. Bob switches between Alex and Daniel with little regard for their feelings. Both Alex and Daniel put up with Bob's behavior for fear of losing him.


A character repeatedly hits a car window. A child scratches a row of parked cars with a broken bottle. A dog is hit by a car and shown dead on the road. In a daydream sequence a child is then shown dead in the dog's place.


Some kissing and non-graphic sex scenes between a man and a woman, and also between two men. Bare breasts are seen twice. A character is seen naked through a translucent shower curtain.


"Bloody" and "bleeding" is used frequently. Some use of "f--k," "t-ts," "pissed," "s--t," and "Christ."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters regularly smoke and drink alcohol. In one scene, two young children smoke pot. In another, a passing character is seen barely conscious, presumably from too much drink.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sunday Bloody Sunday is an Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning 1971 drama about a man in two relationships -- one with a man and one with a woman. Bob (Murray Head) shares love scenes with both Alex (Glenda Jackson) and Daniel (Peter Finch). But these are non-graphic, although there is some brief nudity, including breasts. The movie takes a mature approach to homosexuality and could be considered ahead of its time in its matter of fact mainstream portrayal of a same-sex relationship. The movie features a lot of smoking and drinking. In one scene, a drunk and aggressive man repeatedly hits a car window. Two children smoke pot in front of their non-fussed guardians -- an example of their free-spirited parenting. A dog is shown dead on the road after being hit by a car. In a daydream sequence, the dog is replaced by a child. Language is used sparingly, although there is some use of "bloody," "f--k," "t-ts," "pissed," "s--t," and "Christ."

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What's the story?

In SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY, 30-something divorcee Alex (Glenda Jackson) and middle-aged doctor Daniel (Peter Finch) are both in a relationship with a young man called Bob (Murray Head). The free-spirited Bob is happy with his situation. But Alex and Daniel find it increasingly difficult to reconcile their sidelined places in Bob's life.

Is it any good?

The London-set movie features terrific performances from its two leads -- Finch and Jackson -- that earned both of them an Oscar nomination. The script and direction were also nominated by The Academy and all four won their categories at the BAFTAs. Fresh off the back of winning the Best Director Oscar for Midnight Cowboy, director John Schlesinger brings a passion and intensity, rounded out with moments of warmth and humor.

Early 1970s London is also handsomely captured. Decidedly low-key, all the elements come together to make a quiet powerhouse of a movie that showcases a talented cast and crew at the top of their game. But perhaps Sunday Bloody Sunday's biggest strength is how it still stands up today. It's forward-thinking approach to homosexuality was ahead of it's time -- homosexuality was only decriminalized in the U.K. in 1967. Finch's Daniel in particular is portrayed with no cliched affectations or judgment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how sex is portrayed in Sunday Bloody Sunday. Is it loving and respectful? What does it mean for the characters involved? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • Discuss how gay characters are portrayed in the movie. Why might this movie be considered groundbreaking? Has this changed today?

  • Discuss whether the three main characters -- Alex, Daniel, and Bob -- have happy endings at the end of the movie. What were each of their character strengths?

Movie details

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